Saturday, 20 August 2011

Thunderstorms Galore!

There are none scheduled for tonight.

Tomorrow, however...

(This is my image but it is from 2002 - it is bloody hard to get these kinds of stills.)

On Thursday night at 2200, I heard the long, low rumble of not-to-distant thunder... a sound that always brings joy to my heart! I live for thunderstorms - the bigger, noisier, more dramatic, the better! I look forward to summers for this more than anything else. I just delight in the windy, wily, wild weather. I tend to be a person of extremes (although I'm not wild about extremely cold weather - there I draw the line), so if it's gonna be stormy, it has to be WOW stormy. If it is gonna snow, it should be a blizzard. Yup. Extremes are much more exciting!

So I listened for a few minutes - the thunder always precedes the light show. I could hear it with little silence in between rolling soft thunder. There was no lightning yet. But as the storm approached, the thunder was longer, rolling from side to side. We are only 300 feet above sea level and we are in a valley - not a big one, but the acoustics are such that we might as well be in a cavern. The peals of thunder slowly increased in volume, but were very long... very promising.

I sat down in one of my chairs in the back of the house, thinking that the cat would join me and we'd listen to and watch the storm roll through. But as I saw the first flashes of lightning, I realised that this was going to be quite a big storm. The thunder was now nonstop, just a lovely sound that swelled and ebbed like the tide of the ocean.

I took my camera and stood outside on my front steps, just under the eve so that if the sky opened up, there wouldn't be a problem with rain. Cameras and rain do not get on well.

I took several videos - the first one was too long (for others, not me), about 16 minutes long. The subsequent videos ranged from two to six minutes, all with booming thunder and an incredible lightning. This is what I've been missing this summer! We've really had delightful weather - warm to hot days with low humidity, so the storms have been few and far between. There is always a price to be paid of some kind. In a typical summer here, we usually have a lot more humidity. I really, truly hate humidity, but I know how thunderstorms work - humid air is the corner stone of a good storm. By the same token, this summer will not provide a strong, colourful, brilliant fall - I hate to say it, but it is true. A wet, rainy summer makes for a vibrant, beautiful autumn. But who wants a wet, rainy summer, right?

Well...

Okay, not even me. But back to the weather.

This storm lasted through 2330 - few thunderstorms in this area last nearly that long. I thought of the golf course, and how much they love storms with lots of rain. There wasn't lots of rain, but there was the steady rain, not damaging torrents but a good steady falling throughout. That and it happened at night (golf is never a night sport), so it was perfect.

It really was. Most of the lightning was sheet lightning, but more localised - not the whole sky, but little sections that lit up like daytime! It was beautiful. And there were some bolts of lightning, not a lot. Just enough to keep things interesting - a lot of cloud-to-cloud lightning. Just lovely!

And finally, at long last, it slowly moved east. I watched the whole thing from start to finish. It was great.

I went to bed around 0100, satisfied and very happy.

Yesterday I was in my hammock for the afternoon. I knew there would be a chance of storms, but I figured it would not happen until at least 1800 or 1900. It was beautiful, sunny but dry (hey, 46% humidity is dry here), just perfect. I napped in the hammock for the first hour or so, then read for an hour and a half, then a lot of singing until the sky began to first cloud up to the northwest - I guess around 1715. By 1750, it was black to the northwest, never a good thing. The worst storms brew up from the northwest.

I went to the squad house to visit the crew and see the storm from the bays. The view is better and the bay doors are huge, so I can capture the whole vista. I did get some good videos, but stupid me - I didn't bring extra batteries and the batteries in the camera died mid-video. By then it was pouring - and this was not the gentle rolling thunder and sheet lightning of the previous night. This one was a boomer - it came screaming out of the northwest and howled down upon us with no mercy. The lightning was incredible - cloud-to-cloud, then cloud-to-ground massive bolts with the crackling preface of close-by hits. And finally, it happened.

Right around 1930, the police called out Districts 4 and 6 for a possible working structure fire. Possible means there's smoke and signs of a fire, but flames have not been spotted. A few minutes later, dispatch called out for Boonton Kiwanis fire and Pine Brook. The primary crew began mobilising to go to Vail Road. I, of course, am grounded and couldn't go. GRUMBLE...

We ended up sending out all four rigs and later Montville and someone else was invited to the party. I don't know when the rigs returned and the fun was over, but I missed it all. I hate not riding.

I need to download the movies and clear the camera. Those videos are going to be wonderful!

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